Wednesday, October 30, 2013

(Extremely) Frugally Furnishing a Home From Scratch - Bare Basics

After posting my recent post on how to have a frugal wedding, a super traditional friend of mine said "Ok, Penny, you covered the actual wedding itself, but what about all the expenses entailed in setting up a household for after the wedding?" In some traditional circles, setting up a household is part and parcel of a wedding, because that is often when the couple first moves out of their parents' homes and into their own home, but that is not how the whole world works, I told this friend of mine. Getting married often is followed by moving into your first home, but not nearly all of the time, and hence it is two separate posts.
So, whether you're furnishing a home for a newlywed couple, or just moving out of your parents' home and into your own place, or even moving abroad and starting from scratch, here's how to furnish a place without breaking the bank.

First, I have to admit that this post will probably irk some, as many extreme frugality posts do, because I question the notion of what is a need and what is a want, and some people find that upsetting, because they assume I am making a value judgement on them and their lifestyle. So let me preface this by saying that I know that some of what I'm writing here is very extreme- I am offering it as an option for those that are seriously tight on money, and if they spent more money on furnishings it would mean less food on their table, etc...
I am also offering some less extreme ideas, so if the very extremely frugal option doesn't speak to you, there should still be some stuff here that can work for you.
But if you have the money, and spending money on nice furniture is important to you, then do so- I won't judge- everyone has to make their own value judgments about what is important to them, and while brand spankin' new furniture isn't high on my list of priorities, I understand that for some other people, it is, and that is ok.

Secondly, buying a lot of things at once with a credit card and paying it off ends up costing much more than saving up for one thing at a time, and buying it when you can afford to pay for it in cash. So you may start furnishing your home with the bare basics, and then as you save up more money, buy more and more non basics for your home. Additionally, if you want to dumpster dive or get hand me downs from FreeCycle or other places instead of buying things new, you have to take things as they come, and can't guarantee they'll have everything you want, exactly when you want it. Gradually you can build up your home furnishings- it doesn't have to be all at once. You can use these bare basics until you replace the basics with the nicer stuff.

So, what are the bare basics that I, Penny, think you need in a home that you are furnishing, things that you definitely do need to start out with? (I know every country is different, but lets assume that your home comes with a toilet, a shower/bath, and a kitchen with a sink and counter and at least minimal cabinet space. If your home doesn't come with that, include those in the bare basics.)

Basic Necessities For a Home
  • Something to sleep on
  • Something to sit on
  • Something to eat at and work at
  • Something to store stuff in
  • Stuff to wear
  • A refrigerator
  • Some cooking element
  • Things to cook and eat with
  • Something in which to clean your clothes
  • Something to heat your home if you live in a cold climate

That's it.

I know, super super basic. But lets elaborate on each one of these, and how you can get these cheaply.

Something to sleep on. In the olden days, people would just sleep on straw, etc. I don't think that is realistic for today's modern world. But that doesn't mean you need a bed. You need something soft to sleep on. A mattress will do. And it doesn't have to be an expensive spring mattress either. You can either buy a cheap foam mattress, or even make your own foam mattress (this blog post touches on how a family did that) without a lot of work. If you don't mind a little extra work and a more "rustic" bed, you can also make a mattress that is either filled with straw (here's two tutorials)- one of them said it cost her only 35 dollars to make her mattress- or out of wool- which is more expensive, but can last a lifetime. I'll be honest- if it were me, I'd just go to the thrift store and buy a bunch of thick blankets and fold them to size and pile them on top of each other, possibly sewing them together. I've slept on blankets on the floor before and it was super comfortable. You'll probably need at least 3-4 thick ones for it to be really nice.
You can build a frame for your mattress out of pallets or dumpster dived wood.

Something to sit on. This does not even need to be chairs. At the very least, it can be boxes filled with things, whether cardboard boxes or plastic boxes, or upturned milk crates. You can also build your own chair out of wooden pallets. (I'll be elaborating further on how to get pallets in a little bit.)

Something to eat at. Also known as a table. But it doesn't need to be store bought. It can be as simple as a giant cable spool, or even a wooden plank attached to a box or some other type of base, such as cinder blocks. You can also build a table out of wooden pallets.

Something to store things in/on. Simplest is just cardboard boxes, but since they break easily, you can easily build your own shelves from wooden boards and cinder blocks. If you need space to hang things, you can build your own PVC pipe garment rack. If you do have two sets of shelves with holes in them, whether wicker shelves or the cinder block and board shelves, you can take a piece of piping, plastic or metal, or even a wooden stick like a broom stick, and stick it between the holes on both sides, and hang clothing on hangers from that.

 photo hanging_zpsfc6ae8c4.jpg

That's what we actually have in our apartment instead of a clothing wardrobe, and it works perfectly for us.

Stuff to wear is self explanatory, as is a refrigerator. A refrigerator can be a mini fridge, at least temporarily. While it is possible to live without a fridge, it's not something I recommend.

Some cooking element. While a stove/oven is great, sometimes financially it's not an option. Picking one or more of the following will allow you to cook your own food even without a stove/oven, and more than one will give you even more options: an electric hot plate/burner (or two), a decently sized toaster oven, and/or a crock pot. Between the first two, you won't even miss a stove/oven combo, and a crock pot makes life easier and can replace one, or both, but has some limitations.

Things to cook and eat with. One or two pots minimum, better larger than smaller. One large bowl and cup and spoon per person, at the very least, plus a sharp knife and a flat surface for cutting on. Ideally, though, you should have a few bowls, plates, cups, spoons, forks, knives, mixing spoons, and a few food storage containers (which can be recycled food containers). Tall jars work as cups in a pinch, and wide mouthed jars work as bowls.

Something in which to clean your clothes. Some people use a laundromat, but that gets hideously expensive. I highly recommend getting your own washing machine if you have a place to keep one, and if not, a portable washing machine that hooks up to the kitchen sink. Some people wash their own clothing by hand in a bucket/wash basin, and if you're living by yourself and you wash your clothing daily that is doable, but for a family, it's pretty impossible, from experience... It's a huge physical effort to wash a bunch of clothing at a time. I think having a washing machine of some kind is a necessity. A dryer, on the other hand, is not. You can use an indoor clothes rack, or hang up a clothes line even within the house, or just drape things over chairs to dry...

Something to heat your home. If you live in a cold climate, you'll need some sort of room heating element if you don't have a wood stove or fireplace.

And that's it for the very basics that you need for living.

And while its not a necessary basic for living, having a couch and maybe a coffee table makes life a lot nice, as does a desk. You can build a desk out of palletes, build a coffee table out of pallets, and you can even make a couch by combining pallets, mattresses (even homemade), and pillows.

But there's no reason to furnish your home that simply! You can start off with furnishing it that simply, and then, as you find/get more things, upgrade.

Dumpster Dive:
There are so many things that you can find in the dumpster. Firstly, wooden boards and beams and wooden pallets can often be found in the trash or at construction sites (ask if you can take if from a construction site) and can be used to build many of the aforementioned things.
But that is often not necessary, because you can usually find ready furniture in the trash. I've found in the dumpster (and have/had in my house) book cases, chairs (wooden, metal, and plastic), tables, cabinets, beds, couches, arm chairs, coffee tables, among others... Sometimes the furniture in the trash needs a little bit of loving (reupholstering, screw tightening, etc...), but a lot of times you can even find perfect things in the trash. Wealthier neighborhoods are the best place to look for these things, as are the dumpsters in college dorms at the end of a semester. (College students often just throw out everything they had in their dorm room, and you can get many wonderful things there for free.)

Craigslist, FreeCycle, local online message boards and social networking sites, church bulletin boards, etc... are perfect places to request and find things that people have lying around and are giving away. I got my fridge this way, as well as my washing machine and beds, my toaster oven, a set of dishes, and much else.

Buying Second Hand:
If you can't get free, you can often find anything you need being sold cheaply, again via Craigslist, local online message boards and social networking sites, church bulletin boards, as well as at moving sales, yard/garage sales, thrift shops, etc... Dishes and cooking implements, clothing, furniture, etc... can all be found second hand for much cheaper than you can get them new, and sometimes they are in perfect condition.

And of course, you can buy new, if you so desire, shopping sales, etc... but that will inevitably be much more expensive than if you made from scratch, dumpster dove, or or bought second hand.

My house has much more than the very basic necessities, and I don't think people need to live like this. But knowing that if your budget is tight, this is how you can make do with spending the least money while still furnishing a place, until your finances allow you to spend more money on nice things and extra things to furnish your home.

If you enjoy crafting and have extra time and would like to save money, before you buy any extras for your home, try searching on Pinterest if there is a way you can make it yourself. For example, searching for "DIY Lamps" or "DIY Picture Frames" or "DIY Vases" will give you many terrific results chock full of cheap DIY ideas for your home.

Going through the things in my home, furniture wise:
Oven we bought new but on a tremendous sale. Our first oven we bought used, but it died.
Our fridge we got free from a community list serve.
Our washing machine we got free, via social media. (Someone heard we were looking for one, and heard someone else was giving one away, and made the match.)
Of the 13 bookcases/shelving units in our house, 2 we bought new, 4 we bought second hand, 2 we inherited, 4 we dumpster dove, and 1 my husband built from wood we dumpster dove.
We built our "hanging rack" from our shelves and a metal bar.
Our table we got free from someone about to throw it out.
Our recliner we got from someone upgrading theirs.
Some of our beds we got free from someone who was giving them away, we inherited the mattresses, and we built our loft bed.
We bought some of our chairs second hand, and some people passed on to us when they were upgrading, and a few we got from the dumpster.
Our dryer we bought second hand.
Our high chair was a hand me down.
Our bureau we found in the trash.
Our couch in our old apartment we got from the trash. (We have no room for a couch in our current apartment, so we gave ours away.)
A small table which we use as a desk we inherited...
Of our curtains/shades, one we inherited and 2 were sewn by our landlady.
Our nightstands we got free from people throwing them out.
Our heaters were hand me downs.
Our portable AC we bought used.
Our area rug we bought new from a cheap store.

Of course not everyone has the same connections or same abilities to get stuff for free or cheap as we did. But my point is- it is doable. You do NOT need to buy everything new and spend a lot of money in order to have a well furnished home. Furnishing cheaply means thinking outside the box, making do with mismatched furniture and maybe less than ideal stuff until you can afford to buy exactly the type and style of furniture that you like.

Furnishing your home does NOT need to cost an arm and a leg. You can have a great home and spend very little to furnish it.

How much would you say you spent on furnishing your home? How did you get the different things? Store bought, dumpster dived, bought used, inherited, etc? What do you think are the bare basics you need for a home? If you'd furnish a new home entirely from scratch, how would you furnish it?

Linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways


  1. Beware of bed bugs in anything with upholstery. I used shipping cardboard boxes as nighstands/side tables. They lasted 2 yrs+ (I moved out after 2 yrs, but they were still in good shape).

  2. We are moving into our new home next week with next to nothing. We are very grateful that the current owners are leaving the stove/fridge/washer and dryer so at least we have appliances! (Not sure if they work though). We have a bed for our baby already and we've been garage sale shopping and found a bed for us and a table and a rocking chair so far. Everything is very nice condition and we got it for under $200 so far. We don't even need to replace it anytime soon so it will save us a little more in the long run for spending a bit more up front.

  3. I definitely think one of the biggest things on getting started frugally is focusing on those things that are most important to you, because like you said someone might find one thing to be unnecessary while someone else really needs it.

    When I first moved out on my own, I found a very inexpensive studio apartment that included major appliances and then slept on a very thin foam mattress until I could afford a new one. I did invest in a very nice mattress but got it on clearance as it was "last year's model", and only after saving up for it.

    I'm glad my partner and I were both living on our own before we got together because each of the things we had personally invested in came together as a very nice little household and we can focus more on saving up for the baby.

  4. This might also be nice, especially if you are functioning in a small space and need the room during the day - http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Japanese-Futon-Mattresses-Meditaion/dp/B00A0VX5RY/ref=pd_sbs_hg_6

  5. For a small space - http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Japanese-Futon-Mattresses-Meditaion/dp/B00A0VX5RY/ref=pd_sbs_hg_6

  6. How do you deal with well-meaning family who insist how important it is to have a "nice" home (i.e., well decorated and furnished) when we see these things as extras - albeit extras we would enjoy, but extras nonetheless and not a priority with our current budget restrictions. A family member even went so far as to buy things for us without consulting us. While it was a very nice thought, the things were definitely not things I would have bought and it felt very weird.

    1. My opinion? I understand their notion that a home should nurture the soul with beauty, but beauty can be found in many ways and created cheaply. If you show them that your home is pleasing to YOU, and YOU find it beautiful, then they need to accept that. As for dealing with the family buying you things - maybe you could tactfully ask how they would feel if someone bought them items that they weren't expecting, in colors they might not have chosen? Or if they're bent on getting you things, tell them what you would prefer. I know it's touchy - how sensitive are they?

    2. It sounds like your family doesn't GET you. Let them know how much satisfaction you get from living simply and that you feel wonderful knowing that you've done things on your own for yourself. In their head I doubt they look at your lifestyle as a choice because its not what they would choose. I live frugally by choice, (and sometimes out of necessity) and this is something my wealthy baby boomer parents and in laws do not and will never understand.
      I have made family members feel bad by not accepting gifts and they felt rejected. I think you should accept the gift and just believe that its something THEY wanted you to have. Keep it and cherish it because its an expression of their love whether you want it or not.

  7. My first appartement... well I was a student and I didn't want to spend my parents money :[ Most of everything were hand-me-downs (and stuff from my bedroom at my parents' place). I slept on an old couch and it was TERRIBLE. The next summer I got a temporary job and bought myself a real bed / matress. I was in heaven ! :) So that is one thing I don't want to compromise in the future : a confortable bed so that I wake up rested in the morning ! Ohhhh... and I also built myself some cardboard furniture at that time. :D

    Many appartements followed. Our current appartement... well we got some hand-me-downs from various people (like friends who were moving houses). I didn't want to buy new furniture because most of the time it is not real wood but MDF and I hate those. So I waited till I found something second hand (made from real wood). It was FRUSTATING. It took months to finally got to the point where we felt like we had everything we needed :( Patience is really needed if you don't want to spend to much money... Also we don't own a car which makes things more complicated (it is complicated to have things delivered to you when you buy them second hand). So we had to make arrangements to borrow a car. Well frustating all the way.

    But I am PROUD of us. I think I only bought a few lighting appliances (2 used : 10eur, and 3 new : 40eur). And a used dresser (for 40eur). And a few hooks to hold stuff (also required to borrow power tools)... and that is it.

    In a theorical perspectives, I do believe I could live without a fridge. I use it mostly for leftlovers so I would "just" need to cook only what is needed for one meal !

  8. I LOVE this post. When we (my husband and I) moved into our home, we were determined to pay our brand new 30 year loan off in 10 years. To do this, we have sacrificed a LOT, but borrowing money of any kind freaks us out. (We have a credit card but we've never had interest on it because its only for an emergency and gets paid off immediately). We are beginning our third year in our home this winter and we're on track to pay it off in about 5 more years if we can keep it up. We have some pretty extreme behaviors in order to achieve this.
    We moved into our home in mid-winter. It came with an old inefficient oven/stove, and a washer/dryer. We had no refridgerator. We quickly realized that we didn't need one yet and could wait for something we could afford. We were able to keep our milk, eggs and leftovers in the attic for four months while it stayed below 60 degrees during the winter and early spring. We ended up finding a brand new marked-down, energy star refrigerator that had a nic on the door for $300. It was very expensive to me (one of my most expensive purchases ever) and hard to do, but we have a 75 year old home and we needed an extremely thin refrigerator to fit into the space made for it, and after four months hadn't found a used one to fit. I now know that I don't need the refrigerator for a fourth of the year, and we have been considering turning it off those four months, but due to it being energy-star.. We doubt it will make a huge dent in our electric bill, but we might do it anyway. Why not?
    We lived for about 6 months in the house with a matress on the floor and some old foldable camping chairs. We had no table to eat at, so we ate on the matress or at the kitchen counter. Friends and family would usually sit on the mattress with us.
    I inherited a lot of cast iron cookware, but only had 2 dinner plates, 2 bowls, and a bunch of cups. When friends came over I served finger food from our two dinner plates, and gave them napkins instead of plates. And we ate on the mattress on the floor!
    Eventually we furnished our home fully from dumpsters, inherited furniture and thrift stores. Nothing is new.
    As far as heat goes, we have no children, and our winters have very rarely gone below -15 degrees, so we don't use our heat much, we keep the house around 40 degrees and we bundle up, and use oven-warmed bricks to warm up. I understand that that is extreme and I would never recommend it to anybody because its a harsh way for most people to live, but we enjoy it, we both sweat in the winter, so 40 degrees doesn't bother us much. However, on our "bare essentials" list is air conditioning. I have a medical condition where my body can't cool itself down, and gets over heated when the temp rises above about 62-68 degrees. So we aren't able to live without air conditioning where we live (we have a lot of humid 100 degree days), but are pretty great without much heat to speak of. Its definitely about personal needs, people have both scoffed at me for being wasteful with my air conditioning, and a scrooge with my heat. But in the end, its what works for us, most frugal people go without A.C. We go without heat. And it works for now, if we have children we'll keep the heat WAY up, and I'll just have to sleep outside or something!

    1. But what about pipes freezing in your home??

    2. Firstly, I need to make a correction. Winters rarely go below 15 degrees here, not negative 15.
      As far as pipes go, we have a good-sized basement that all of our plumbing is run through. It has stayed above freezing temperature down there despite outdoor temps and doesn't get drafty. The pipes haven't frozen yet, but we could wrap them with cloth to insulate them and let the faucets drip into a basin (using the collected water to cook and clean with through-out the day) to prevent them from freezing. So far we haven't had to employ that.
      When we lived in a trailer in my college years before we were married, the pipes were exposed to wind and were above ground, below the trailer. They would have frozen had we not kept the heat at 40 degrees (that's above freezing), wrapped the pipes and let the faucets drip. We've never had the pipes freeze in any of the three homes we've done this in.
      Also, I want to reiterate, that I would never recommend that people turn off their heat. Its risky. And can be unhealthy, or deadly. But also, keep in mind that we don't usually skip heat altogether, we use a little heat when temperatures drop below 40, to maintain an internal temperature of at least 40 degrees which is 8 degrees above freezing.
      I don't think anyone should run out and turn off their heaters. This is crazy extreme stuff my husband and I enjoy and that enhances our lives, if our pipes burst, we'd feel stupid and never keep the heat that low again, and if we were uncomfortable we wouldn't do it. Period.
      I only mention the heat thing to acknowledge and agree with penny's statement above that everyone's "essentials" lists will vary. As mine does with hers on the level of Heat vs. Air conditioning.

  9. After being married for 16 years with two kids this is my advice. I get a lot of complements on my house. I did not spend a lot of money. Keeping things clean and organized should be your first priority. That will trump everything else. People notice that first. And you will enjoy your house more if its clean. Learn how to refinish furniture (painting furniture is a fad that will not last). Have a plan before you buy anything. Learn how to sew. (Make cute throw pillows, slip covers, duvets). Learn how to paint the walls. Paint is relatively cheap and keeps things fresh. Only paint furniture that has already been painted and wallpaper wall that you just can't strip. Buy only things that you love and will stand the test of time (no cardboard furniture), do without until you can. (If it still looks good at the thrift store, it's a classic,but you might have to go there every day to find it) Buy the bigger ticket items(sofas, flooring, appliances,beds) in a neutral color and of better quality, use the accessories for color and buy, find, or make them cheaply. Research thrifty decor on the internet and don't hesitate to copy something on there you love exactly! Just give credit where due. Do without if you don't have the cash, it's not worth putting it on a credit card. Really, trust me on this. Have fun, make it yours, don't be a slave to trends!

  10. This is such an interesting read for me! I love all the comments and it reminds me that I should be trying to pay my mortgage faster and "do without". My profession doesn't help the cause: although I'm thrifty, I'm an interior designer, so I love a nice looking space by nature, and spend my days creating kitchen designs for people with lots of money. I'm sure I could have lived with my kitchen but my thought was on re-sale and as we got our home at a steal of a price, I invested a small amount to completely redo the kitchen. We diy'd everything but the electrical and I got discounts from all the suppliers. The complete renovation including new floors throughout our home AND extended into the bathroom for a new vanity and toilet was between $5000-$6000. This would be IMPOSSIBLE without the discounts and diy's. That said, our furniture is nearly all hand me downs and second hand but we make it work. The most we spent was on our bedroom - 2 new to us book cases and a bed frame (new) for about $400 total. This was a LOT for me, but its solid wood (modern) and built to last. This post is SUCH A good reminder to me to focus on the mortgage, and not worry about our upcoming wedding, etc. Remember the thrift!!! And clean is wonderful too..... makes a big difference!

    1. I'm an artist and can appreciate your natural need for well designed spaces. I studied Architectural Spatial Analysis and Interior Design Phsycology for a few years before purchasing our home. I made sure that the house we chose had good bones, high ceilings (so we can lower them for effect or storage), and spaces that catered to interest, such as small cozy places opening into larger open spaces etc.
      As far as furnishing, I have an interest in other cultures, and realized quickly, that it would be a very cheap theme for decorating. I only use thrift store and dumpster furnishings, but I just get super creative about my use of them. I burn intricate designs into wooden dumpster furniture, carve my drywall to look like carved stone or plaster, and I do free renovations, such as tearing down walls ourselves and using dumpster lumber to make it how I'd like.
      I also got creative with an old futon, I leave it down, as a bed, and built a wooden back to it. I sit two discarded couch cushions I found against the wood as a backrest then I cover it in pillows. I suspended some thin wooden dowels from the cieling over the futon using tacks and brown string to hang a free strip of fabric from, as a tented canopy over the "lounge"/futon. I used a safety pin to create a "valance" effect of gathered fabric on the pieces of fabric that drape down. Its georgous. Its my centerpiece in our biggest room, and everyone loves the easy-going and arabian/other-worldly feel of it. My whole house has these sorts of "cheats" I think if you use your imagination, and allow yourself to have a magical, eclectic look.. There are no limits, and it gives you more wiggle room to use dumpster items because its such a creative imaginative space.
      The eclectic look is the cheapest way to decorate, but its not for everyone :)

  11. This is fascinating...and I love the comments too.

    We furnished with cardboard boxes, stuff out of the trash, and a hand-me-down cushiony thing that was large enough to serve as a bed, Our daughter slept in a dresser drawer (removed, of course!) No washing machine; I washed by hand or we made monthly 10-hour trips to my mother in law and used her machine. We used disposable diapers though, so it wasn't as awful as it could have been.

    There was no fridge, which was a problem. We had a series of hand-me-downs from neighbors, most of these dated back to the 1950s or '60s, and didn't work well. We didn't keep leftovers because they'd spoil. So one thing I'd do differently is buy a fridge! Somehow. Even a little dorm one for milk.

  12. I read your article with a smile.

    When I moved out on my own (and the dinosaurs roamed) I furnished my new 1 room apartment with my childhood bed, plastic milk cartons - you could get these everywhere. I found about a dozen of them down a ravine and dragged back home (still have some - don't tell Colbert Dairy). I used an extra fitted sheet over my bed too keep it clean, because it was also my dining room. After I got married we used a large cable spool for a coffee table. The kitchen table was saw horse legs nailed to a square (slightly) frame and covered with a piece of ply wood nailed to the square. I covered both tables with contact paper. My MIL, who could sew, made me table matching table clothes for each, for Christmas. My now grown children recount many of my rescues, like the free dishwasher that needed new hoses and wheels and sounded like a space ship lifting off. (But they didn't have to wash the dishes anymore, so they don't laugh too much.)

    I still have a lot of my "finds", like the full set of china and crystal glassware found on the side of the road. I still stop at curb side 'donation locations'. My latest find is a real steel 5 drawer file cabinet, sitting in my home office...I may spray paint it turquoise.

  13. PS : I have to factor that my partner is badly allergic to dust, mites and mould. Everything needs to be easily washable. That was the end of my cardboard furniture making adventures :'( ... and I just can't imagine myself taking an armchair from the dumpster :[

    > Penny, don't you miss having a couch ? I enjoy mine so so much !

  14. I really Love reading this post. Buying secondhand things helped me a lot. Recently I have shifted to a new home; it is bigger than the previous one. As I was not having much home items, so I planned to buy secondhand furniture’s and they are looking great.

  15. I really appreciate this post! I sometimes wish I had to start over so I could show my kids how to do it. ;) We slept on mattresses on the floor at one time and did many of the other things you mention. I think it builds character and makes one realize just what IS necessary.

  16. I loved this article.. one option for tables and chairs that wasn't mentioned was using durable metal folding chairs and portable plastic folding tables- they can very often be found on sale for cheap and can be folded away if not in use, once covered with a tablecloth no one really notices...

  17. In a pinch, an ice chest works as a refrigerator. You do need to replace with fresh ice every couple of days though.

  18. The majority of furnishings we have, were free!
    The table and chairs, given to us by a family moving out of the country.
    Couch, and other comfortable chairs in the living room, and the single bed in the spare room, hand-me-downs from my in-laws.
    The bed and headboard were left behind in the apartment adjacent to ours, and the landlord told us to take them.
    Vanity table, and desk, were inherited from my Grandma.
    The three dressers were given to us by various different friends.
    The table in our living room, I got for $15 at a second hand store.
    Bookcases, out of the 6 that we own, 1 was a hand me down, the other 5 were bought cheap at DIY stores or second hand stores.
    Oven/stove, fridge, washer and dryer all are included with our rental.
    When we actually buy a house, which we have been saving for, we'll make sure appliances are included, so we don't have to cover that as an added expense on top of all the house buying costs, and the new baby costs.


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